Senate Democrats on Impeachment Trial CSPAN January 22, 2020 11:01am-11:24am EST
see the document? that what we are to believe? counsel also says he's not the first president withhold aid and that is true. after all, council says president obama withheld aid to egypt. yes, at the urging of members of congress. senators kane -- >> we believe this portion of yesterday's senate impeachment trial and go live to capitol hill where senate democrats are holding a briefing on impeachment. live coverage on c-span2. >> we adjourn at 1:40. okay. i hope everyone got a good night's sleep. and let's talk about yesterday. as everyone knows, the senate
had a long but crucial debate over the rules of the trial last night and it lasted into the early hours of the morning. the american people expect a fair trial. our solemn oath to the impeachment trial and our senate office demand it. before we proceed to opening arguments, it was nonnegotiable for us that the senate at least consider the question of evidence, witnesses and documents and the rules of a fair trial. i publicly offered to delay some of the vote until today to spare everyone from staying late but leader mcconnell was so unwilling to let the trial go on one session longer than he had planned, he declined to delay. it seems the only reason, and
it would interfere, the timeline, not with a fair trial. just what donald trump, the defendant here, wanted. now, if there is one thing we learned from a series of votes on the senate floor it is that leader mcconnell and senate republicans don't want a fair trial that considers all the evidence. on four separate votes every senate republican voted against requesting relevant documents for the trial. on three other votes every senate republican voted against calling relevant witnesses before the senate.
republican senators even voted against amendments that made basic, fair, procedural fixes, one that prohibited the white house from selecting and leaking documents and another giving both parties a reasonable time to respond to motions. at the end of the night every senate republican rejected senator van hollen's amendment to place the question of witness relevancy in the hands of the chief justice and voted down an amendment to guarantee the consideration of witnesses and documents later in the trial. that particular amendment which would guarantee votes revealed the charade that the republicans are participating in. all along, republicans have said it is not that we don't want witnesses and documents. we just want to vote on the layer. we explains why that made no sense from the trial perspective. presentations would not rely on the same things. senators cannot ask questions about this evidence.
and can only decide, and even then, leader mcconnell's resolute -- resolution allows only one vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents are in order. the amendment, different from the clintons. only on whether to have witnesses and documents, not to vote on witnesses and documents, merely a vote on whether to have a debate about having a vote on witnesses and documents. an amendment to guarantee votes on witnesses and documents after the question period, after the presentations instead of one vague procedural motion, every single republican said no.
when they say they want to make sure we will vote on witnesses and documents later, their votes be lie that. the bottom line is this. the very first thing the american people saw when they tuned into the impeachment trial of donald trump was republican senators voting against having a fair trial with relevant evidence. it is clear that the american people overwhelmingly support a fair trial and overwhelmingly support witnesses and documents. it was a dark day and a dark night for the senate. as a consequence the impeachment trial of donald trump begins with the cloud hanging over it, the cloud of unfairness. democrats seek additional votes on witnesses and documents down the line. yesterday we put the spotlight, yesterday we put the spotlight on the number one issue of
having a fair trial, witnesses and documents, just the spotlight alone. i predict that as a result, that spotlight will continue to focus on witnesses and documents and the pressure will continue to build on republican senators. as we saw yesterday leader mcconnell was forced to tweak his organizing resolution before it was even authored with modifications scrawled in the margins after several senate republicans agreed with democratic objections. i'm glad leader mcconnell's most egregious proposals were expunged but let me point out, the fact that mcconnell changed his resolution, can make it more fair if they want to. and and the power in their
hands to make a fair trial. the next test will be, they revisit the issue of witnesses and documents. i want to make a final point, house managers made a clear and compelling case. not only on the glaring need for evidence but also on the gravity. the white house defense were unprepared, confused and totally unconvincing. white house counsel resorted to the kind of histrionics you see on fox news evening broadcasts rather than any sober minded auto -- argument that could persuade senators. on multiple occasions they made discrete factual errors. the president is always loose with the truth and it seems his lawyers are the same way. most telling of all white house
counsel were far more preoccupied with making inflammatory and inaccurate statements about house managers than providing an actual defense of the president's conduct. this is not bode well into the president over the course of the trial. >> the difference between what we saw from senate republicans and democrats couldn't have been more stark. democrats made simple, straightforward request for documents and testimony. directly to charges against the president. and the senate said no. now to allowing documents that could shed light on the president's actions.
they said no to each and every attempt on our part to ensure a fair and honest trial. of the president is truly as innocent as he claimed. republicans should what his aides to testify. he should want his administration's documents to be considered. the charges brought against this president, that he demanded a foreign government interfere in our election to help his campaign, that he abused his power as president and obstructed congress, could not be more serious. this is about our democracy and our future. and we will keep doing everything we can to bring a fair and honest trial, not a cover-up. >> good morning. it is clear from last night
that we are now on a partisan march towards a predetermined outcome. i fully agree with leader schumer's remarks to that effect. i want to add an additional point. i have been an assistant attorney general and attorney general, the governor is legal counsel, practicing private lawyer, todd in law school for 40 years. i have looked at, participated in and studied legal proceedings. one thing is true whether you are looking at a criminal proceeding or civil proceedings or administrative proceedings, and there are only two ways in which evidence is kept out of the proceedings. what is if it is exclusive
because of some legal bar and the others if you don't know it is there. and in a multi-century tradition of legal history. evidence we all know is there that the house managers actually said is sitting in boxes ready to be produced to the senate without any finding any of it should be excluded. indeed there could be no finding that it should be excluded because it meets every standard for the presentation of evidence. my point for those not as familiar with the background to where we are right now as they could be, what a bizarre
aberration this proceeding has become has become a long and an checkered background of america legal tradition. it is, as leader schumer said, a dark day from a dark night. senator murphy of connecticut. >> thank you. this trial thus far could not be more further from historical precedent. this is the first time in history that a president has refused any and all cooperation with an impeachment inquiry, no documents, no production of witnesses, this is the first time the senate has adopted rules designed to present evidence from being entered into the record. this is the highest bar ever created in order to produce witnesses before, the goal to
speed through this trial as quickly as possible with as many hours of testimony being in the middle of the night as possible, to acquit the president as quickly as possible. we see our responsibility as truth finders, fact seekers and you cannot get to the truth of this matter without having witnesses and without having evidence. as senator schumer pointed out something interesting happened yesterday after leader mcconnell released his first version of the rules which shocked everyone as it was going to force house managers to present much of their evidence in the dead of night. those rules changed. they changed because republican senators pressured leader mcconnell to do it. because of a no the american public is plugged in. they know that the american public is not going to stand for a rigged trial.
they didn't unring the trial with small land - last-minute written additions. what we did see is republicans understand their constituents are paying attention. if they continue to obstruct the journey for truth, if they don't allow for any document protection or witnesses there is going to be hell to pay back at each one of their states. ultimately the people are in charge and the people want us to continue to fight to make sure this is a fair trial and all the facts are in place no matter how senators may vote in the end. >> on the question of witnesses are you willing to let republicans bring in former vice president joe biden or his son hunter to testify in order to get the witnesses you want? >> the bottom line is witnesses should have something to do with and direct knowledge of charges against the president,
we don't need to have witnesses that have nothing to do with this, to distract americans from the truth. >> but if it comes to that will you allow it? you cut a deal of any kind with republicans? >> right now we haven't heard them wanting any witnesses at all. our first quest is to continue to focus our efforts and focus the american people on the need for a fair trial which means witnesses and documents, witnesses and documents that again -- >> are you willing out -- >> so that we reflect the truth and the bottom line is this. we don't know what these witnesses and documents will reveal. they could be exculpatory of the president, they can be incriminating of the president. these are not democrat witnesses or democratic documents. we want, as my colleagues said, the truth. that is what we are going to focus on.
>> with additional motions down the road. >> the motions will be made. right now we have the arguments by house managers and arguments by the president's lawyers, we will try to find ways whether it is the house managers who want to do it themselves or us to get direct vote on each witness and document once again after the arguments are made. >> during the long session on the floor did you put together a deal made in closed session or a deal on evidence or witnesses yesterday? >> the one negotiation was sort of done in public where leader mcconnell wanted votes, we said no but we didn't want to go late into the night, that was mcconnell's choice and it seems
his initial offer in terms of the resolution and what happened they wanted in the dark of night. they want this hidden from the american people as much as possible but the good news is that chris mentioned, sheldon and patty the american people are focusing on this and republican senators realize that our hope is they will go to leader mcconnell and say obeisance to do whatever trump wants is not serving anybody very well, certainly not the american people. >> is leader mcconnell genuine in making changes or does he have those in his back pocket? >> i don't know. >> did you get any since he was ready? >> i got a sense that a large number of republicans thought it was egregiously unfair. it is still unfair. we hope it is a prelude to putting pressure on mcconnell for real votes and getting
witnesses and documents that we have asked for and if they have other suggestions about witnesses and documents that have direct effect on the trial and knowledge of what happened when the aid was cut off we are open to hearing about it. >> how much coordination are you having with house managers? >> not very much. we are not like mcconnell. we are not secretive or close to the best. three weeks ago i sent a letter to every member of the caucus saying we want to be 7 votes, four on witnesses, three and document and we ended up putting two together that were related, duffy and blair and i said publicly we are going to try to undo some of the most egregious parts of mcconnell's deviation from the clinton plan.
most particularly we are want to undo the situation where we are not able to vote on witnesses and documents afterwords. and what we wanted to ask for yesterday. >> do you worry about the strategy to push for witnesses and documents including the vote last night to turn off moderate republicans? >> here is the bottom line. we are seeking the truth, the american people want the truth. we would be derelict in our responsibility that we didn't ask for these votes. this is the only time we are guaranteed a vote on witnesses and documents. we would not be doing our job if we didn't try to make this trial fair and we will continue to do it and it will determine in my judgment how people vote, their conscience and knowledge if the american people realize we are right. >> are you concerned the managers are too partisan like
brett nadler saying the gop was involved in a cover-up? >> what i said here i believe, that the arguments of the house managers were overwhelmingly on the merits, on the fact. the argument of the president's lawyers were like fox news, a lot of finger-pointing at nothing to do with the actual facts. i thought about this as i was listening. of this was an actual trial after those arguments i would be certain that the president's managers would prevail in the president would be convicted because when you sit in a jury box your hearing the actual facts and all these things, this, that, and the other that have nothing to do with it which seems to be the president's lawyer's way of arguing don't make a difference. sheldon is not here. he is a lawyer, i'm not a lawyer.
but any - same thing. any jury sitting there would have been overwhelmed by the huge, important and factual direct discussion of what happened. one other point. this may be the first time many of our republican colleagues are hearing the arguments made by the house. when you have to sit there, no iphones, no laptops, it is a different way to approach it. i think it is successful and i'm looking forward to hearing the house managers's case go to the senators sitting without their phones and laptops. it will be very powerful. i read their brief. it is great. thank you, everybody.
[inaudible conversations] >> the senate impeachment trial of donald trump continues today with opening arguments. house managers and the president's defense team will have 24 hours over three days to present their cases. watch live coverage of the senate impeachment trial on c-span2, on demand, c-span.org/impeachment or listen on the free c-span radio apps. >> senate republicans will hold a news briefing on impeachment at 12:40, an hour and 20 minutes from now just before the start of a trial at 1:00 pm